Once-Secret Court Order by Surveillance Court Released to Public

As the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on government surveillance programs, the American public got its first glance at a once-secret court order that approved massive government collection of telephone call data.

The order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “stipulates that a small number of analysts and supervisors are authorized to access the records for the limited purpose of matching them against phone numbers linked to terrorism,” according to a Los Angeles Times article.

The newly declassified document was among several released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The order allowed government access to telephone logs if an official from the executive branch deems there are “facts giving rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a targeted number is linked with terrorism, the New York Times reported

Despite release of the documents, members of Congress were not wholly convinced about benefits of the surveillance program.

Proposed reforms, in the wake of media disclosure about massive government surveillance programs, have included declassification of certain FISC rulings;  changes in the way FISC judges are selected; and allowing FISC judges to hear two sides of an argument in a case, rather than hearing only from the government in secret proceedings.

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